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MC Luncheon Speaker: Madeline Bialecki, Director of Gilda’s Club Lake House Location

Our Speaker on January 28 was Madeline Bialecki, who serves as the Director of the Lake House in St Clair Shores, which recently became part of Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit. The Lake House became a part of Gilda’s Club in April 2019 but still continues its same mission — to provide support, education and wellness activities for those impacted by cancer.

MC Luncheon Speaker: Patrick Colbeck, co-founder and CEO of Freedom Center at DTW

Our luncheon speaker on January 14th was Patrick Colbeck, the co-founder and current CEO of the Freedom Centers at Detroit Metro Airport and Military Entrance Processing Stations in Troy and Lansing. Patrick is a former Candidate for Governor and Two-Term State Senator in Michigan. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan with bachelor’s and Masters of Science Degrees in Aerospace Engineering and also the Life Sciences Department at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. His professional career is highlighted by his public service in the Michigan Senate (term-limited) and his engineering design work on key elements of the Life Support System for the International Space Station. He also served as an instructor at Space Camp in Huntsville, AL

Colbeck described that the need for the Freedom Centers, previously called Michigan Armed Forces Hospitality Centers, arose from the fact that Michigan has no USO centers because there are no active duty military installations in Michigan. Freedom Centers are airport lounges available to both active duty members of the all branches of the military as well as veterans. Their motto is “Serving Those Who Serve Us.” They also serve members of the armed forces of our allies as well as gold star and blue star families. The first Michigan Freedom Center opened in the McNamara Terminal at DTW in 2011, but now they also have a Center in the North Terminal as well as the MEP Stations in Lansing and Troy. They provide a place for military members in transit and veterans to relax, recharge and refresh away from the noisy, harried atmosphere of the airport. In addition to refreshments and comfortable chairs, the Centers have bunk beds for short naps.

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GP South Temple Belles sing at December 10 meeting under the direction of Christopher Pratt

Men’s Club Luncheon Speaker: Mark Heppner, President and CEO of Eleanor and Edsel Ford House

Ken Mokray and Mark Heppner

Our luncheon speaker on November 26th was Mark Heppner, the President an CEO of the Ford House. Mark had previously served as vice president of historic resources and most recently, interim chief of operations over both Ford House and Fair Lane. With nearly 30 years of experience in museums and historic sites, Mark had served historic properties in Ohio and Iowa before moving to Michigan. A native of Ohio, he earned a B.A. studying history at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and an M.A. in American history from Cleveland State University,

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SMC Luncheon Speaker: Ike McKinnon, Ph.D., former Detroit Chief of Police and University professor

Ike McKinnon nd Ken Mokray

Our luncheon speaker on November 12th was Isaiah “Ike” McKinnon, the former Detroit Chief of Police, Deputy Mayor, and Associate Professor of Education at University of Detroit Mercy. Ike earned his B.A. from Mercy College, his M.A. from the University of Detroit Mercy and his doctorate from Michigan State University. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the United States Secret Service School. McKinnon joined Detroit Mercy in 1998.

McKinnon has authored three books and co-authored two others, in addition to numerous articles on crime victims. He won an Emmy as the NBC News/Safety Consultant. He has met six U.S. Presidents and Nelson Mandela, and has appeared on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Oprah,” and “The History Channel.”

Ike began his talk by telling us how he has a wonderful life, even though he was shot at eight times and stabbed twice. The first time he was stabbed, the knife hit his belt buckle and broke. Ike grew up in Detroit, enlisted in the Air Force, came back and joined the Detroit Police Department, rising through the ranks to become Chief. He credits his father for the success he has had. His father had a third-grade education and was a sharecropper in Alabama before moving to Detroit. Ike remembers his father asking him to read the Bible to him, saying that was not a good enough reader to read it himself. Ike later realized that it was a way for his father to teach him how to read and spend time with him. His father used to tell him that he played professional baseball in the Negro league and played with Satchell Paige. Ike said, “Sure you did” not believing his father. But years later Ike was on duty at the Olympia Stadium when the Harlem Globetrotters were playing. Their guest was Satchel Paige, and Ike, wearing his police uniform, walked up to him and asked him whether he ever played ball with a McKinnon. Paige said, “I don’t think so.” But as Ike walked away, Paige turned around and said, “Wait, did you mean Cody McKinnon?” He went on to say what a great player Cody had been and how he would have played in the Major Leagues had the color barrier been broken. When he went home, his father then told him that he didn’t play more because his team went on barnstorming tours and he wanted to stay home and work and take care of his family. He told Ike that he would never lie to him.

Years later, Ike told the story to his sons, and of course they didn’t believe him. They asked Ike what he did and he told them that he almost made the 1964 US Olympic team after winning the Military Olympics as a sprinter. He couldn’t go to the Olympics because he was serving in Vietnam. One of Ike’s sons is now trying to convince his 11-year old daughter that he almost made the Michigan men’s basketball team. Ike thinks it is important to learn to listen to older people. When Ike was serving in Vietnam, he was surprised when his chaplain asked Ike to accompany him to the Danang orphanage. There they held and fed orphan babies that were getting very little attention. They started doing this every weekend, seeing how the infants responded. Recently Ike saw a story on a Sunday morning news program that showed the same orphanage, still in operation.

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SMC Speaker Report: Barbara McQuade

Barbara McQuade and President Ken Mokray

Our luncheon speaker on October 8th was Barbara McQuade, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. She is currently a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

Barbara began by talking about whistleblowers and the Whistleblower Protection Act, a federal law that protects whistleblowers who work for the US government and report possible wrongdoing. The law is intended to protect whistleblowers from retaliation such as firing, demotion or reassignment, but only if their claims are credible and raise an urgent concern. Such protections are important to discourage the leaking government secrets to the press. Barbara cited a number of well-known leakers, such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Reality Winner, and Julian Assange and described how leaking classified documents could damage national security. She mentioned that established media outlets had declined to publish such documents but several internet sites such as WikiLeaks had no such compunctions.  Barbara had a security clearance while serving as US Attorney and prosecuted cases involving terrorism financing, foreign agents, and export violations, so she was able to discuss the different levels of classified documents.

Barbara stayed for a lengthy question and answer session that covered a number of issues, including the current impeachment proceeding. She discussed the elements of the crime of extortion and how it was important in the federal prosecution of Kwame Kilpatrick that she headed in Detroit. Barbara also touched on topics such as the power of Congress to investigate the President, the chance that a President could be prosecuted after leaving office, how she uses remote studios to appear on TV, how experts are compensated by TV networks, and the Michigan Innocence Clinic at Michigan Law School.

SMC Speaker Report: Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press

President Chris Walsh and Phoebe Wall Howard

Our luncheon speaker for our very well-attended and successful 60th Anniversary Celebration on September 10th was Phoebe Wall Howard, the Detroit Free Press automotive writer.

Phoebe is a sixth-generation Detroiter whose family arrived in Detroit in 1850. They ran a small painting business in Corktown. She was the first in her family to grow up in Grosse Pointe. Phoebe went to Grosse Pointe South where she worked for the Tower newspaper. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia and has worked in the Midwest, South and California covering business, politics, government regulation and labor negotiations. She returned to Detroit to cover the auto industry for the Detroit Free Press in 2017. Phoebe has a background in magazine, newspaper, radio and TV news with an expertise in political polling and social media. Today, Phoebe covers the automotive industry for the Detroit Free Press with a focus on Ford Motor and industry news for investors. Read more

SMC Speaker Report: Laura Burton, Forgotten Harvest

Laura Burton serves as Director of Community Engagement at Forgotten Harvest of Oak Park, Michigan. She is a graduate of Central Michigan University and earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. As our luncheon speaker on August 27th, Laura told us how Forgotten Harvest has been busy driving hunger from our community for almost 30 years.

The mission of Forgotten Harvest is relieving hunger and preventing nutritious food loss. As long as the need exists, no one will be forgotten.

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SMC Speaker Report: Mac Gallagher, Max Box

Our luncheon speaker, Mac Gallagher, the owner of Max Box, spoke to us on August 13th about the benefits of physical activity in staying healthy and living a longer life. Max Box gym is at 29057 Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods and teaches seniors and others how to box. Mac is the Line Coach for the Blue Devils Freshman team at Grosse Pointe South High School. Coach Gallagher is a former Penn State football player and Golden Gloves champion who started the Hit Smart Boxing Program designed to implement hand to hand combat strategies in order to prevent players from hitting with their heads.

Mac said that physical activity improves both health and mental ability. Science distinguishes between two types of exercise: cardio or endurance exercise and strength or resistance training. Boxing combines both of these. His boxing program involves punching speed or heavy bags while learning footwork. The heavy bag provides the resistance while the punching and footwork builds endurance. Boxing also benefits the brain because it involves bilateral communication between the two halves of your brain.

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SMC Speaker Report: Neil K. Hitz, Author

On July 9th, Neil K. Hitz, a member of our Club, spoke to us about his book My Life Directory. My Life Directory is a simple, easy to use, confidential 48 page book or fillable PDF that lists the location of  important documents and contacts needed for someone else to carry on when you are unable. What better way to put your “affairs in order”?

My Life Directory is a simple booklet that serves as an information hub for locations when the owner suddenly leaves this life on earth. The booklet identifies 16 Categories and more than 100 topics of information that, depending on one’s individual circumstances, should be known by those that step in to assist in the final arrangements at this stressful time. The book aggregates publicly available information from government, social, and other sources, plus personal reviews written by others. This third-party data is then indexed through methods similar to those used by Google or Bing to create a listing. Because My Life Directory only collects this data and does not create it, the subsequent result is only as good and useful as the owner desires it to be. Read more